Expanding Medicaid Empowers People with Disabilities to Work and Escape Poverty
On December 27, 2016, Reuters reported that “Medicaid expansion tied to employment among people with disabilities.”
According to a recent study, “Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid coverage to people living just above the poverty line may be responsible for more disabled people getting jobs, according to a recent study.”
Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, passed in 2010, individuals with disabilities working at low income jobs could often not afford expensive healthcare. It is not surprising that many chose to not work and qualify for Medicaid over working but having no healthcare.
A recent report published in the American Journal of Public Health dispels the myth that people with disabilities receiving Medicaid cannot or do not want to work.
“Policy makers in states that have not expanded Medicaid often suggest that making Medicaid available to more people will increase their dependence on public insurance and discourage them from working to obtain insurance through an employer,” said lead author Jean Hall, a health and disability policy researcher at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City and the University of Kansas, Lawrence.
“Our results show just the opposite for people with disabilities, who are much more likely to work in states that expanded Medicaid,” Hall told Reuters Health.
“Expanding Medicaid empowers people with disabilities to work instead of applying for cash assistance, being dependent on the government, and living in poverty,” Hall said. “Moreover, research has shown that working, even part-time, improves health.”
To date, 19 states have not expanded Medicaid and in those states, the earnings limit with disabilities is 85% of the poverty rate. $834/month. In 2014, states received the option to under the ACA expand Medicaid coverage. This allowed people with increased earnings who earn up to 138% of the poverty rate to receive Medicaid coverage.
“After the ACA was implemented, people with disabilities living in states with expanded Medicaid were significantly more likely to be employed than those in non-expansion states. In the expansion states, 38 percent of the disabled survey respondents were working compared to 32 percent in the states that didn’t expand coverage.”
“’People with disabilities desperately need health insurance because of chronic health conditions,’ Jae Kennedy, chair of the health policy and administration department at Washington State University in Spokane.
Medicaid expansion requires more funding from states and the federal government, but the result is that newly insured people are able to pay for their care with insurance, said Kennedy, who wasn’t involved in the study.
‘Medicaid matters. Expanding it without extra requirements helps people with disabilities remain in or return to work,’ Kennedy said.”